Federer is the best to interview post match, says Todd Woodbridge

Tennis player turned television presenter Todd Woodbridge, who has 22 Grand Slams to his name, feels Roger Federer is the best player to interview post a match.

Photo of Todd Woodbridge, former tennis star who won 22 Grand Slam titles, at the Australian High Commission in Delhi.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

Todd Woodbridge was ruthless like the rest of the Australian team in 1993, serving a 5-0 defeat to India, without so much as dropping a set on grass in Chandigarh against Ramesh Krishnan, Leander Paes and company, in the Davis Cup semifinals.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion, who with Mark Woodforde formed the famous partnership of the all-conquering "Woodies", was quite charming on his current visit, as part of the Australian Fest, here on Thursday.

With the main focus of his visit being the Australian Open Ball kids programme, by which 10 Indian kids would get selected for the Grand Slam of the Asia-Pacific, the 47-year-old Woodbridge said he was particularly happy to guide young players.

As a full-fledged media professional, who has expanded his field of operation from Australian Open tennis to presenting the Olympic Games in Rio to the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, apart from golf events, Woodbridge emphasises that the key to being efficient and happy, is to be sharp and alert on and off the court.

"You can’t know everything in every sport, but you try to know the key points," he says, making it clear that he thoroughly enjoys his role, as doing "live" events gets the adrenaline flowing like when he was playing.

Woodbridge is equally happy about his role with Tennis Australia that calls for guiding the young players, especially about dealing with the media.

"As a player, you have to realise that the game has become very physical. So, you have to work on your fitness to compete better. Technique is very important, as a sound technique will take you a long way, and help you for a long time’’, he says.

For the Asian players, who may not be built that big as the Europeans or the Americans, Woodbridge stresses the importance of being fitter and faster on court.

As far as the media part, Woodbridge says that the kids are told to be "likeable, approachable and marketable."

As the person who walks up to a player after the match at the Australian Open to get a quick reaction for the fans in the stands and millions watching on television from around the world, Woodbridge says that Roger Federer is the best.

"You can just stand there, Roger tells you everything," he says. When his attention is brought to the ugly incident at the US Open during the women’s final between Serena Williams and champion Naomi Osaka, the man who was ranked No.19 in singles says he would not have to query the players after the match as it was the final.

"It was the pressure of the situation. The umpire was going by rules. I think, all the bodies, ATP, WTA and Grand Slams have to get together and have uniform rules," he said.

Looking at the health of Australian tennis, which had won the Davis Cup 28 times over the years, Woodbridge felt that the new format would make it difficult for Australia, despite having a bunch of good players, to win the title in the near future.

"We needed change. But this change is too quick and the players were not consulted. So, there can be no guarantee from the players. We have to wait and watch," he said about the new format of the Davis Cup, where 18 teams will play in a Final in November 2019.

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